Category Archives: Reflection and LIfe Happenings

Reminder on a Lonely Day in the Remembrance of Failure

Today was an especially lonely day. It is funny how in the midst of my addiction I sought to carve out alone time and now that I am in recovery but have plenty of alone time, it is as hollow and empty as the shell game at the carnival. And in these moments of loneliness, I often hear Satan walking down the hall and entering my room to pull up a chair. “I know how you feel, ” he whispers, “like you never quite fit in, like your never quite have what it takes. (Yes, Satan sometimes ends phrases in a preposition.) It’s not fair the hand God dealt you and how you chose to play the cards, well God wired you like He did. I get it.” Half-truths served on a platter garnished with sympathy.

And so we commiserate as the echoes of sad red dirt country song echo across the room from a jukebox that is not really there. A pity party ensues, where we both imagine that everyone has it better than us, everyone is out having fun with friends or tucking in their family, while we spend a Friday night alone, yet again. And I don’t know if it Satan’s ploy or not but I am not drawn to past addictions this night, merely sadness. Maybe this is where he wants to hold me tonight, in the remembrances of my deep failures, not in actual re-failing, for both can be equally crippling. And tonight he has done this effectively as I feel like the last kid picked on the emotional playground at recess, like I missed the easy layup so many times and everyone knows it.

From this sadness comes a question. It is a question we all wrestle with deeply. Do I have what it takes? I feel this now from a phone conversation I got off earlier this evening with someone whom I love who feels let down by me yet again. And when I ask this question, my “friend” is quick to speak. Sometimes my party companion tells me, “You almost do, just try harder,” for there are moments he knows that he needs to keep me far from admitting I truly don’t have what it takes. He knows this confession could be fatal to his cause IF the admitting it leads me back to the fountainhead of grace.

But other times, he sees a different disposition in me, and upon taking a stiff drink, he puts his arm around my back and says, “No, you don’t have what it takes.” I don’t. He is right–why keep trying, you cannot ever get it right, you always let them down, you’re a hopeless case. In these moments it is so easy to get sucked into vortex of fatalism. “This is what you are. This is how it will always be.” Down, down down, until you are doing what one of my high classmates ironically voted most=likely-to-succeed did. You type “clearing the wreckage” as your Facebook status and off yourself from living.

And I have listened to his tales long enough tonight….

Instead I’ll sing the refrain. Even when I don’t feel particularly feel like it.

All I Have Is Christ

This is true declaration of the good news of Jesus offering rich hope for wretched saints.

I once was lost in darkest night  |  Yet thought I knew the way

The sin that promised joy and life  |  Had led me to the grave

I had no hope that You would own  |  A rebel to Your will

And if You had not loved me first  |  I would refuse You still


But as I ran my hell-bound race  |  Indifferent to the cost

You looked upon my helpless state  |  And led me to the cross

And I beheld God’s love displayed  |  You suffered in my place

You bore the wrath reserved for me  |  Now all I know is grace


Hallelujah! All I have is Christ  |  Hallelujah! Jesus is my life


Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone  |  And live so all might see

The strength to follow Your commands  |  Could never come from me

Oh Father, use my ransomed life  |  In any way You choose

And let my song forever be  |  My only boast is You


© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

The Dumbphone and the Downgrade

Today I traded in my smart iPhone 4 for a dumbphone with only talk and text and zilch for a data plan. To be honest I really liked my iPhone. Its user interface is excellent, easy and fast to get around on texting, tracking recent calls, the whole gambit. Its syncing ability with my all Mac platforms at work and laptop were also nice. Its ability to pull down emails, news, my iMatch songs, to launch me into Facebook and Twitter on the fly, and the games. I liked my iPhone.

But I love my family more than I like my iPhone. My iPhone was a distraction away from them many times. It was a revelatory tool of my lack of proper energy and priority being given to them. It was also insidious in its lure to check out from real life and to check in to the virtual world, too often. It had become an icon for my wife of my lack of pursuit. In its unfettered state with open internet access it was too much for me to self-manage (a problem in and of itself, self-management that is instead of Christ-managed). And so, today I got myself a dumbphone. It is clunky and very user unfriendly compared to the Jobsian engineering of the iPhone, requiring 4 clicks for things that should require one, having audio that is a bit suspect, and no interfacing Google calendar so I am not cross platform synced. BUT it is beautiful if it allows me growth and recovery with my wife and kids. I’ll take its cumbersome navigation in exchange for communion with those I love most.

Will I ever be able to have an iPhone again? Perhaps, or maybe not. Only with the wife’s blessing.  If so,  from day one I’ll have several things in place that I didn’t initially have on the current phone until later (and if you have an iPhone and struggle with any addiction related to pornography or internet usage–gambling or whatever–you might consider this if you aren’t dumbing down):

  1. I’d have boundaries on the times and time limits I could use it, agreed upon by my wife. If it became a problem, she’d have the right to tell an accountability partner who could confiscate it for a period or some other arrangement.
  2. I’d have that accountability partner lock-out safari and the ability to download apps once the initial set needed was loaded. The only way I would want access the internet in browser mode is through the Covenant Eyes mobile browser.
  3. I’d give him the iCloud login for Find My Phone where he could see where I was on a Google map at any time.

I actually did the last two, but it took too much and too long to get me to that point. I needed to more quickly admit my flesh was weak.

I’d rather have my family back than a phone. For now and as long as needs be, the dumbphone it is. Hey, it doesn’t hurt that the sky high bill for the data plan just got kicked down a notch or two, as things are tight these days. So if I don’t text you back as quickly, don’t fret, I’m probably still trying to figure out where the send button is. Man, I think my pet rock was smarter than this phone, but I am smarter than a pet rock–some days that is.

Apple Pie

Sin’s tentacles reaching from Eden’s site
Calling me to take another bite
“That’s right. You know you deserve it.”

And so I capitulate to this hate
See Adam, I can relate
I take the bait.

Oh no—the hook is set

And I thrash and fight against the line
As Satan drags me through the brine
“I’m fine,” I tell concerned onlookers.

But I’m not.

See what looked like delicious apple pie
Has left me high and dry
I don’t know why I take another bite when I’m already chokin’

Oh, I could blame it all on you, Man
You did the dirty, set up my pension plan
I am, after all, just receiving daily installments.

But then that wouldn’t be quite so fair
Cuz I have this feeling deep down that if I’d been there
I’d have done the same damned thing.

Someone peel me another apple, I’m hungry.

A reflection on Genesis 3 and the horrific nature of sin and addiction. We go back to take another bite, even though we are already gagging on our sin. Okay, maybe you don’t, but I have tended to. And  if I had been presented the forbidden fruit, let me not be so haughty as to think I would have made a better choice than Adam. I’d have probably cut down the tree as well to make furniture. (And for all you legalistic types, I meant ‘damned’ in its true sense, ‘cursed.’) But this is a reflection only on the Fall and my fallen nature, and this is not the end. There is hope and grace and rescue….for there is always more to come in Christ. Join us.